The Memory Hole

ABC’s quick-cut radio news broadcasts, two minutes or less of content dropped in at the hour and half hour on thousands of stations across the country, reduces the key content of any given media day to one or two stories. That’ll be the message most of the country gets, because that’s how most of the country gets its news. So language is significant.

Yesterday, I heard ABC describe the Japanese surrender as having taken place on "a battleship in Tokyo Bay." That may be the first time I’ve ever heard the occasion described without a reference to "the battleship Missouri." Don’t have to go into a lot of detail about the Mighty Mo, just a nod to the name will do. But at some news desk somewhere up in ABC New York, some writer or editor took a blue pencil to "Missouri" – or never wrote it in the first place.

Worse was a broadcast months ago on the anniversary of the Clinton administration’s forcible return of Elian Gonzalez to Cuba. The ABC clip summarized (kind of) the controversy, then ended it, "Elian Gonzalez returned to Cuba."

Yeah, he "returned" all right. In what David Horowitz called "the signature act of a police state," federal SWAT agents garbed in black armor and masks, toting H & K machine guns, grabbed a screaming, terrified little boy from the arms of a friend, tossed him to a female agent in civilian clothes who had been ordered to smile for the cameras no matter what – remember that dreadful frozen rictus on her face as she ran to the car? – and sped off into the Miami night, leaving behind only the booted echoes of their passage. And tears.

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